UPDATED 1/19/16: The Apex Merchant Group website (apexmg.net) is not currently active and appears to have been inactive since late 2015. It’s possible that Apex is no longer an active brand, or that it has been absorbed into another entity under the First American Payment Systems umbrella. We are unable to determine whether Andrew, Craig, and Jonathan Frankel have launched any merchant services companies to replace Apex Merchant Group; if you have any knowledge of the company’s fate, please share that information in the comment section below.
Apex Merchant Group (apexmg.net) is a merchant account provider based in Plano, Texas, and the company looks to have been established in 2008 or 2009. Apex Merchant Group is a reseller of First American Payment Systems contracts, making it a member of the First American ISO network that appears to consist of the following companies: Appstar Financial, Eliot Management Group, Trans Tech Merchant Group, Summit Merchant Solutions, and Certified Payment Processing. Apex Merchant Group is an ISO/MSP of Fifth Third Bank, Cincinnati, Ohio. The company’s corporate headquarters is located at 6652 Pinecrest Dr., Suite #400, Plano, Texas 75024.
On October 15, 2014, the Attorney General of Minnesota filed a lawsuit against Apex Merchant Group alleging that the company fraudulently altered contract terms and used “bait and switch” tactics to trick merchants into paying higher rates than they had initially agreed to. The lawsuit was settled in March 2015. Per the settlement’s conditions, Apex paid a settlement sum of $550,000. In addition, Apex, Andrew Frankel, and Arthur Banks agreed to abstain from selling merchant services in the state of Minnesota for six years and to release existing Minnesota Apex merchants from their contracts without cancellation penalties.
The CEO of Apex Merchant Group, Andrew Frankel, is the brother of Craig Frankel. Craig and Jonathan Frankel formerly served as officers and directors of Certified Merchant Services, which was the subject of an FTC complaint in 2002. In that complaint, Certified Merchant Services was accused of modifying customer contracts, debiting accounts without authorization, misrepresenting the goods and services offered by the company, and failing to disclose various fees. Certified Merchant Services settled that complaint for $23.5 million. According to the Attorney General of the State of Minnesota, Craig Frankel is an investor in Apex Merchant Group.
Following the FTC litigation and the subsequent sale of Certified Merchant Services, Craig Frankel released a book and served as the executive producer of a film titled Chasing the Green, which tells the story of “two young brothers who become millionaires during the early 1990s. Their ambition and drive lead them into conflict with FTC officials, where an over-zealous bureaucrat attempts to destroy their company.” The Amazon book description also states that the brothers in the story (the “Franklins”) “were confident and bold, and thus ignored warnings by the government to ‘respond’ to numerous complaints regarding their practices. Ultimately, they were nearly destroyed by the FTC, who sought to demolish their company at the behest of their competitors in the industry.” This version of events—in which two reckless, money-hungry brothers fall victim to unreasonable federal regulators acting at the urging of jealous rivals—suggests a great deal about how Craig Frankel interprets his actions, his brother’s actions, and the FTC’s actions.
Chasing the Green Trailer